Friday, September 21, 2018

Into New Hampshire......

7:21 am - Friday - September 21st - Shelburne, NH - 58º F, 83% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the south by southeast......cloudy with a forecast high of 66º F.  We had planned to roll our wheels today to Burlington, VT, however the forecast is for heavy winds and rain along the way, so we are going to stay put for one more day, because we can.....there is no rush, right?

Our sole purpose in stopping here in Shelburne, NH was to visit the top of Mt. Washington, and see some waterfalls and covered bridges, but first Mt. Washington.  Statistically there is only a 40% chance on any given day of no cloud cover at the top of Mt. Washington.....60% of the time the summit is in the clouds and there is no view.  It is said that Mt. Washington has the worst weather in the nation.  I don't know if that is an exaggeration, or not. It is also said it is the most dangerous little mountain (6,288') in the nation, and I'm pretty sure that is not an exaggeration.  It can snow any day during the year....not just in the winter.  Many hikers have been caught in serious snow storms in the middle of the summer, and have died.

A little history of Mt. Washington before I continue with Thursday's adventures.  The Mt. Washington Cog Railway, and Carriage (auto) Road were completed and opened in 1861.  The hiking trail to the top was completed in 1819, and is the oldest continuously used hiking trail in the U.S.  Mt. Washington itself is the most topographically significant mountain east of the Mississippi.  While the summit area is a State Park, the toll road is privately owned, and has been since it was built.  The cost for one vehicle and one person is $31. The cost for each additional person is $9, so it cost us $40 to use the toll road to the top.  You get a gift bag including, but not limited to a bumper sticker proclaiming "This car climbed Mt. Washington", and an audio CD which you play while ascending and descending.  It is actually quite informative.  It can be sunny on top, but there can be cloud cover below the summit hiding what lies beneath.  It can be sunny below, and cloudy on top, or it can be both as it was on Thursday......cloudy below and on top.

We left the Newell around 9:30 am to make the 10 mile drive to the beginning of the 8 mile long Mt. Washington Toll Road.  The road averages a 12% gradient, with some sections as much as 18%.  You spend your entire drive up and down in 1st, or LOW gear.  We have a manual transmission so we were in 1st gear.  It takes about 20-25 minutes to make the 8 mile climb, however, when it was a carriage road it would take horse drawn carriages some 4 hours to reach the summit, and 2 hours to come down.......

......we were hoping that the summit on this day would be above the cloud cover, however, it was not....

 View from the parking lot up towards the summit

.......once you reach the gravel parking lot you must climb a long flight of stairs to get to the summit, and the State Park portion of Mt. Washington.  We got brief views of the terrain far below, but they were fleeting, and most of the time we were in the middle of a cloud with almost white out conditions at times.....

 This old Stage stop is held down by chains

....the original, and still existing structure is called the 'Tip-Top House'.  This building is all stone, and includes a kitchen, nice dinning room, and bunk beds for up to 12 people.  It is no longer in use, but was very popular back in the early days of the toll road..... 

 Mt. Washington Cog railroad....steam powered....still

....the Mt. Washington Cog Railroad is still in operation today, and you can choose between steam powered locomotives, or more modern bio diesel locomotives......while we were at the top the steam powered locomotive was just getting ready to make the descent......

 What the view would look like without heavy cloud cover

 Mt. Washington Observatory
 One of the rare times we had someone else take an 'usie' for us

......of course, what goes up must come down, and frankly going 'down' the Mt. Washington Toll Road is much more interesting than 'up'.  Even though we were in 1st gear on our manual 5 speed transmission it was still necessary to pump the brakes about every 2, or 300 feet.....

.....many, many turnouts are provided for downhill traffic to pull off the road and cool down their brakes.  We stopped about 5 times to do so, but there is no way you make it to the bottom without smelling your overheated brakes.

At the bottom is the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center which includes the Great Glen Cafe where we stopped to have lunch, and plan the rest of our day......

 View from Great Glen Cafe where we had lunch

.......there are numerous waterfalls, and covered bridges in the area and we were within striking distance of both.  Our first stop as we continued south on SR-16 was the Crystal Cascade Waterfall......

Crystal Cascade Waterfall
.....normally is it a .6 mile round trip hike to the falls, but there is a bridge you must cross to get to the falls, and it has been washed out for a while, so you must hike a detour trail to get to the falls which is quite steep, and about twice as long......

Ubiquitous granite staircase 

......we decided to make the hike anyway,and were glad we did.   There were, of course, numerous granite staircases, which we have become quite used to during our time in New England.  

Our next stop was the trailhead for the Glen Ellis Falls trail.  In this case it was also .6 miles round trip, and that is exactly what it was.....a very nice trail which takes you along the Ellis River

 Glen Ellis Falls

.....there were many more granite staircases, but we needed the exercise.  Once again the hike was well worth the view.....

 More granite staircases

......our last stop of the day was about 9 miles further south in the small town of Jackson, New Hampshire to see their covered bridge......

This is a two way bridge, but you must wait for opposing traffic to clear the bridge before you cross in the opposite direction

A covered bridge at a local golf course that TLE caught as we drove back north on SR-16 was a nice day of sightseeing.  We were home by 4 pm with big smiles on our faces.

Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. Does the CD you got still mention that the race they have to the top each year has an average speed of 100 mph? If my memory is accurate that was one of the amazing things about driving up that road to the top.

    1. Yes, that factoid is still included. I cannot imagine going that fast on that road!